Blog

Bilateral

Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and or affecting India’s interests

SAARC
The South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation, or SAARC, is an economic and geopolitical organization that was established to promote socio-economic development, stability, and welfare economics, and collective self-reliance within its member nations. Founded during a summit in 1985, SAARC’s initial members include Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka. Due to rapid expansion within the region, Afghanistan received full-member status and countries are considered observers. SAARC respects the principles of sovereign equality, territorial integrity, and national independence as it strives to attain sustainable economic growth.
It was established with the signing of the SAARC Charter in Dhaka on 8 December 1985. SAARC comprises of eight Member States: Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. The Secretariat of the Association was set up in Kathmandu on 17 January 1987.
The objectives of the Association as outlined in the SAARC Charter are: to promote the welfare of the peoples of South Asia and to improve their quality of life; to accelerate economic growth, social progress and cultural development in the region and to provide all individuals the opportunity to live in dignity and to realize their full potentials; to promote and strengthen collective self-reliance among the countries of South Asia; to contribute to mutual trust, understanding and appreciation of one another’s problems; to promote active collaboration and mutual assistance in the economic, social, cultural, technical and scientific fields; to strengthen cooperation with other developing countries; to strengthen cooperation among themselves in international forums on matters of common interests; and to cooperate with international and regional organizations with similar aims and purposes. 
Decisions at all levels are to be taken on the basis of unanimity; and bilateral and contentious issues are excluded from the deliberations of the Association.

Areas of Cooperation
Tourism
Not only as a major component of economic growth but also as means of facilitating people to people contacts, the significant role of tourisms has been recognized since early days of SAARC. The Leaders during the Second Summit held at Bangalore in 1986 underlined that concrete steps should be taken to facilitate tourism in the SAARC region. Successive SAARC Summits reiterated the importance of tourism. SAARC Tourism Ministers meet from time to time to make recommendations for promoting tourism in the region. SAARC Working Group is in place since 2004 to pursue and implement plans and decisions under tourism. 
So far, the Ministers have met three times and the Working Group has met five times. The last Ministers’ Meeting was held in Kathmandu in January 2011 preceded the Fourth Working Group Meeting. A SAARC Action Plan on Promotion of Tourism has been adopted by the second meeting of Tourism Ministers (Bangladesh, 2006) and pursued since then. The Action Plan includes a joint pro-active marketing or promotional campaign of the SAARC landmass as a composite destination in the international markets. The Action plan also emphasize on the role of private sector of the SAARC region for promotion and development of tourism both intra-regionally and internationally. The Fifth Working Group on Tourism which was held in New Delhi on 25-26 November 2015, among others, emphasized on implementation of SAARC Action Plan on Promotion of Tourism in the region.
 

Meeting of SAARC Cabinet Secretaries
The idea of Meeting of SAARC Cabinet Secretaries was suggested by India in year 2008 to discuss professional issues of common concern such as administrative reform, procedural simplifications and implementation of development programs relevant to SAARC Countries which was welcomed by Member States. The Cabinet Secretaries of SAARC has so far met four times i.e. New Delhi, November 2009; Dhaka, April 2014; Islamabad, April 2015; and Kathmandu, June 2016.
So far, number of programs, workshops and initiatives has taken place under this Forum with the participation of officials from SAARC Member States.
 
Apex and Recognized Bodies of SAARC
SAARC attaches high priority to the promotion of people-to-people contact in the region and to foster mutual understanding and goodwill among the peoples of South Asia. While it is an inter-governmental Association, successive Summits have emphasized on the importance of promoting people-to-people contact at all levels outside the State sector. In order to realize this objective, a number of initiatives have taken place.
With a view of enriching and supplementing inter-governmental regional efforts in promoting socio-economic and cultural development in SAARC Region, the Association encourages interface and interaction across the region among professional bodies, private corporate sector, civil society groups and creative artists. To further facilitate and acknowledge their work, the Association grants formal recognition to these bodies under two specific categories i.e. SAARC Apex Bodies and SAARC Recognized Bodies. Currently, there are six SAARC Apex Bodies and eighteen SAARC Recognized Bodies.
 
SAARC APEX BODIES
 SAARC Chamber of Commerce & Industry (SCCI)
The SAARC Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SCCI) was granted the status of a SAARC Apex Body in December 1992. SCCI brings together the national chambers of commerce and industry of the eight SAARC countries.  It is encouraging Trade, Service, Industry, Small & Medium Enterprise, Agriculture; Intra-Regional through creating strong business linkages amongst the entrepreneurs of the region of SAARC it has a permanent Secretariat in Islamabad, Pakistan.
 
SAARCLAW
SAARCLAW consists of members of the legal profession from South Asia. Established in 1991, it was accorded recognition as a SAARC Apex Body in July 1994. Among its objectives are to bring together the legal communities of the region for closer cooperation and to develop law as a source and catalyst of social change for development.
 
South Asian Federation of Accountants (SAFA)
SAFA was established in 1984 with the objective of developing a coordinated accountancy profession in the region. It was granted recognition as a SAARC Recognized Body in May 1997. It was later elevated to the status of a SAARC Apex Body in January 2002. Its membership is open to accountancy bodies in the SAARC region. Its Secretariat is located in India.
 
South Asia Foundation (SAF)
Founded by UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador Madanjeet Singh in year 2000, the South Asia Foundation (SAF) is a secular, non-profit and non-political organization, comprising eight autonomous chapters in Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.  SAF’s core objective is to promote regional cooperation through a number of UNESCO Madanjeet Singh Institutions of Excellence in the eight SAARC countries. SAF was recognized as an Apex Body in August 2006.  Its Headquarters is located in India.
 
Foundation of SAARC Writers and Literature (FOSWAL)
FOSWAL has been working to foster people-to-people contacts in the region, especially amongst the writers and intellectuals of the SAARC region. FOSWAL has created a large fraternity of writers, poets, scholars, diplomats, academics and intellectuals through its varied initiatives. It has been promoting the ideals of SAARC, particularly in the areas of literature, art and culture, and has contributed significantly to the greater objective of peace and prosperity in the SAARC region. It was granted SAARC Recognized body status in January 2002. Later FOSWAL was granted Apex body status in 2007.  Its Headquarters is located in New Delhi.
 
South Asia Initiative to End Violence against Children (SAIEVAC)
SAIEVAC was formed after the 4th South Asia Forum for Ending Violence against Children (SAF) (Kathmandu, Jan. 2012) decided to create a new Institutional Framework for ending violence against children and recommended that SAF’s name be changed to the “South Asia Initiative to End Violence Against Children (SAIEVAC)”. It was granted the status of SAARC Apex Body in 2011. SIEVAC envisages an environment free from all forms of violence, abuse, exploitation, neglect and discrimination for children, girls and boys, throughout South Asia. SIEVAC’s Permanent Headquarters is located in Kathmandu, Nepal.

 
SAARC RECOGNIZED BODIES:
Association of Management and Development Institutions in South Asia (AMDISA)
AMDISA is a network of Management Education and Management Development Institutions in South Asia. It has 251 members from the SAARC region. Its mission is to promote management education and management development activities in South Asia, taking into account the economic, social and cultural context of the Region, with the firm dedication to world-wide exchange of experience and ideas in the fields concerned. It was granted SAARC recognition in May 1997. AMDISA’s Headquarters is located in Hyderabad, India.
 
South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation of Architects (SAARCH)
SAARCH was founded in 1991 in Colombo with the objective of assisting the development of national architectural bodies within the South Asian region and providing opportunities for conferences of architects to discuss professional matters. It was awarded SAARC recognition in 1997.
 
Federation of State Insurance Organizations of SAARC Countries (FSIO)
FSIO is engaged in strengthening cooperation among the state sector insurers in the region as also in promoting cooperation with international organizations for the development of insurance industry. FSIO obtained SAARC recognition in 2002.
 
SAARC Diploma Engineers Forum (SDEF)
SDEF was recognized by SAARC in 2002. The Forum was established with the objectives of exchanging technical information and experiences and organizing seminars, symposia, workshops, technical fairs with joint efforts of diploma engineers of the region. SDEF’s Headquarters is located in Dhaka, Bangladesh.
 
Radiological Society of SAARC Countries (RSSC)
The Society is engaged in the development and advancement of the radiological science through education and scientific research. It was recognized by SAARC in 2002.
 
SAARC Teachers Federation (STF)
STF is an umbrella organization in the SAARC region.  STF was granted recognition by SAARC in January 2002. At present 17 EI Affiliates, teacher organizations are affiliated to STF from six countries i.e. India, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bangladesh, Pakistan, and Afghanistan. STF and its affiliates organize advocacy and lobbying on the common issues in the region. Education International (EI) financially assists STF in its activities.
 
SAARC Surgical Care Society (SSCS)
The Society aims to promote understanding and cooperation amongst Surgeons, Surgical Associations, Colleges, Societies and Organizations in the region. It was accorded SAARC recognition in 2002.
 
South Asia Free Media Association (SAFMA)
SAFMA is a mainstream media practitioners’ body of eight South Asian countries. The objectives of SAFMA are to promote networking among the media community, improve professional standards, facilitate journalists’ exchanges, media training and undertake joint media productions. SAFMA gained the recognition by SAARC in 2004.
 
SAARC Women’s Association (SWA)
SWA was granted recognition by SAARC in November 2005. It aims at building bridges of friendship and raising funds through cultural activities for a charitable cause. It is actively participating for acceleration of economic growth, social progress and cultural development in the region.
 
Hindukush Himalayan Grassroots Women’s Natural Resources Management (HIMAWANTI)
HIMAWANTI was granted recognition by SAARC in 2007. Its goals include ensuring the emergence of appropriate policies and decision-making processes relating to programs aimed at organizing rural women, advocating for women’s right and promoting their moral strength for the conservation and management of the natural resources of the region by giving priority to rural women.
 
Federation of Association of Pediatric Surgeons of SAARC Countries (FAPSS)
FAPSS goals are promotion and propagation of health of children among SAARC nations; continued interaction for mutual cooperation and scientific exchange of knowledge for the mutual benefit in the field of patient care, teaching and research as well as establishment/promotion of pediatric surgery where it is not currently available. FAPSS was granted recognition by SAARC in 2007. Its Coordinating office is in Chittagong, Bangladesh.
 
South Asian Federation of Exchanges (SAFE)
SAFE is a cooperative platform launched by the bourses in South Asia with a purpose to promote the development and harmonization of the securities markets in the region. SAFE was granted recognition by SAARC in December 2007 and it is the only organized regional platform of South Asian capital markets. Since its establishment, SAFE has continued its work for harmonization/integration of the regional markets. SAFE’s Secretariat in Islamabad, Pakistan.
 
SAARC Federation of Oncologists (SFO)
The objectives of the SFO to promote the education and science of oncology (cancer), to improve patient services, to study the socio-economic aspects of its practice and to encourage improve and continuing education and its applied professional fields. SFO was granted recognition by SAARC in 2009.
 
South Asia Association of National Scout Organization (SAANSO)
Recognized by SAARC in 2011, SAANSO’s objective are, among others, to uphold and promote the values and ethos of Scouting and strive towards professionalism and quality of Scouting across South Asia and to deepen the level of interaction among the National Scout Organizations (NSOs) for each others’ overall organizational development. SAANSO’s Headquarters is located in Bangladesh.
 
South Asian Network of Economic Research Institute (SANEI)
SANEI is a research oriented Society which was granted recognition by SAARC in 2011.  The objective of the Society is to foster networking among economic research institutions in South Asia for establishing strong research inter-linkages pertaining to broader concerns of development.  The Society’s current office is in Kathmandu, Nepal.
 
SAARC Academy of Ophthalmology (SAO)
SAARC Academy of Ophthalmology (SAO) SAO is a conglomerate of ophthalmologists who are members of national societies of ophthalmology in the various countries. The aims of SAO are to promote peace, solidarity and ocular health in the region of the SAARC countries. SAO’s Headquarters is in India.
 
South Asian Women Development Forum (SAWDF)
SWADF has emerged from the core group of women led organizations who have the experience in working towards regional issues for the socio-economic empowerment of the South Asian Women. This coalition of experts, institutions and affiliations have come together for capacity building, advocacy, dialogue, and information sharing through net working. SAWDF is an autonomous, nonprofit organization based in Kathmandu Nepal. It was granted recognition by SAARC in 2014.
 

Cooperation under Agriculture, Rural Development and Food Security
According to 2014 statistics, South Asia is home of 1.749 billion people and 67% of them are living in the rural areas. Almost half of the workforce is employed in the agriculture sector 42% of South Asia’s landmass is under agricultural operation, also to increase investment, promote research and development, facilitate technical cooperation and apply innovative, appropriate and reliable technologies in the agriculture sector for enhancing productivity to ensure food and nutritional security in the region. They also underscored the importance of promoting sustainable agriculture.
 
Technical Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development (TCARD) 
It has been observed that like all other SAARC mechanisms, meetings of TCARD are day by day becoming irregular. Though the practice was at per the approved TCARD-ToR for having at least one meeting a year, the re-organized TCARD met only 8 times in fourteen years and only two meetings took place in last six years. These irregular meetings affected the regular activities and their quality. 
Often the following meeting finds its previous discussion out of date and irrational in the prevailing context and discontinue. As for the Eighth meeting of the SAARC Technical Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development (TCARD) held in Dhaka from 4-5 April 2016 after a span of three years, the Meeting observed that a number of decisions taken in the past at various mechanisms who report to TCARD were not followed up resulting in little progress in implementation of the decisions. The situation is overwhelmed with non-availability of relevant data from the Member States.
Having 67% of regional population in the rural areas, rural development though supposed to be one of the regional priorities any regional initiative is becoming prey of traditional neglect, lack of focus and lack of focal institutions in the Member countries and bureaucratic miss-management. The Secretariat is of the view that focused and integrated rural development programme is need of the time.

Multi-stakeholders’ Dialogue on Agriculture
For the second time, the Multi-stakeholders’ Dialogue on Agriculture preceded the meeting of the Technical Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development (TCARD). The meeting was as devised, attended by Government and non-government agencies, development partners, farmers representatives and private sector representatives. The outcome of the meeting was subsequently considered by the TCARD along with the outcome of the previous dialogue held in 2010. 
The Ministers considered the two multi-stakeholders’ Dialogue on Agriculture held in 2010 on ‘Management of Soil/Land – towards Sustainable Agriculture in South Asia’ and in 2016 on ‘Pulses Research and Development in SAARC Region: Challenges and Way Forward’ and directed the SAARC Agriculture Centre to devise implementable regional projects in line with the dialogue recommendations. The Meeting endorsed the recommendation of Senior Agricultural Officials of holding one-day multi-stakeholders’ dialogue preceding the TCARD meeting. The multi-stakeholders’ dialogue would have two segments: cross-cutting and thematic.
 
SAARC Food Bank
In line with the Eighteenth SAARC Summit directive to eliminate the threshold criteria from the SAARC Food Bank Agreement the Eighth SAARC Food Bank Board meeting (Male’, 2-3 September 2015) agreed to entrust the Secretariat for drafting the amendment to the Agreement. Subsequently, a draft was circulated and views received from Member States. 
The amendment includes omission of the threshold criteria for drawing food from the bank and cooperation with the development partners with whom SAARC has the MoU. The next Board meeting is to be held in Pakistan. However, till date Pakistan hasn’t conveyed/announced the dates.
 
 
Enhanced networking among SAARC CVOs
SAARC Chief Veterinary Officers’ (CVOs) Forum is one of the regular Forum of SAARC dealing with controlling trans-boundary animal diseases, capacity building on epidemiology activities, networking among the veterinarians, regional laboratories and other veterinary institutions. 
During the Fifth CVOs meeting, the Forum considered a concept note on establishing SAARC Livestock Vision Group submitted by the representative of Pakistan and the status of usage of the Epidemiology Mapping Tool (EMT) by the Member States and directed the Regional Support Unit (RSU) to extend support wherever necessary. The meeting noted that RSU is providing support to the Member States for Laboratory Information and Management System (LIMS) and SAC is organizing one Field Epidemiology Training Programme for the Veterinarians (FETPV) in collaboration with the RSU. 
The meeting started baseline discussion on cooperation on matters relating to Anti-Microbial Usage (AMU) and monitoring Anti-Microbial Resistance (AMR) in the farm animal. The meeting noted that the FAO to support a regional project in this respect along with the “Support to address the avian influenza and other high impact animal diseases in Asia”. The CVOs also agreed upon holding the meeting of the Global Frame-work on Trans-boundary Animal Diseases (GF-TAD) for SAARC in every alternative years back to back with the CVOs meeting.
However, the meeting was overwhelmingly concerned over the sustainability of Regional Support Unit, Regional Epidemiology Centre, SAARC Epidemiology Network (SAARC EpiNet), SAARC Animal Disease Information System (SADIS) and SAARC Laboratory Directors’ Forum (SLDF) beyond the project period till July 2017. The meeting urged the SAARC higher bodies to consider creating optimum posts at the SAC to retain the mechanisms in line with the directives of Forty-second session of the Standing Committee (Kathmandu, 22-23 November 2014) to incorporate the mechanisms within the SAC and providing additional budget support to the Centre.
 

SAARC Development Fund (SDF)
The Eighteenth SAARC Summit (Kathmandu, November 2014) directed to strengthen the Social Window of the SDF and operationalize its Economic Window and Infrastructure Window at the earliest for effective implementation of regional and sub-regional projects. The Summit also stressed on expeditious development of projects under SDF addressing the livelihood issues of the peoples of the region and agreed to expand the Governing Board of SDF by including a representative of the National Focal Point of the Member States. Subsequently, the Thirty-seventh session of the council of Ministers directed to replace the matter related to NFPs inclusion to the following Summit for reconsideration.
Presently SDF is implementing thirteen regional projects of about USD82.60 million, under its Social Window addressing various subjects such as women empowerment, maternal and child health, water and sanitation, agriculture, education, IT, and violence against women and children. Mentionable that five out of the ten projects are at the final stage of implementation and expected to end by 2016. Other two would be completed by 2017, one in 2018 and the remaining two are at the preparatory stage. SDF circulated the brochure for Economic Window and Infrastructure Window and now considering a number of projects, however, none of them are ready for implementation.
The Council of Ministers endorsed a proposal of SDF Governing Council for amending SDF Charter reducing the required number to one with direct/indirect benefit to more than one Member State for any SDF project. Subsequently, Member States have been requested to forward their instrument of acceptance to the Secretariat. However, till date Bangladesh, India, India and Nepal have conveyed their concurrence to the amendment.

SAARC Agricultural Centre (SAC)
SAC has been working on priority cross cutting areas in crop, livestock, fisheries sectors and natural resources management identified by the member countries where partnership as well as regional collaboration is the driving force. The Centre has been organizing regional study, workshops, trainings and consultation meetings with regional subject matter experts/ specialists. 
These regional programs help for identifying emerging need-based priority issues and areas for intervention. SAC has been implementing its activities and programs in partnership and collaboration with National Agricultural Research System (NARS), National Agricultural Extension System (NAES), State Agricultural University (SAU) and international development partners.
The Centre also has been publishing valuable books, monographs, proceedings, bulletin, news letter, journal and recommendations for agricultural stakeholders of the region. Besides, the Centre facilitates sharing of elite plant and animal germplasm for adaptive trial as well as genetic improvement purposes.
The Centre organized 73 regional expert consultations/ workshops/ trainings at different premier institutes of SAARC member countries from 2008-2016 on different priority issues. To meet up the future demand of the region in the area of agriculture with increased population and changing climate, the Centre has taken initiatives to intensify the program in the frontier areas such as biotechnology, hybrid technologies, GMO, Integrated Pest Management (IPM), Farming systems in adverse ecosystems (hill, coastal agriculture, saline zone, flood and drought prone agriculture etc.), sericulture, agro-forestry, organic agriculture, bio-pesticides, value addition and agriculture trade, GIS based agriculture, good agricultural practices on selected crops, crop modeling, dairy production, animal feeds and fodder, genetic improvement of indigenous farm animals, Trans-boundary animal Diseases (TADs), brood fish management and coastal aquaculture, etc.
SAARC Journal of Agriculture (SJA), a half yearly publication of the centre envisages to serve a platform for exchange of latest knowledge on breakthrough topics in the field of Agriculture, fisheries, livestock, forestry and allied subjects that are of current concern of researchers, extension specialists, students and policy makers.
The Centre successfully implemented SAARC-Australia project on “Developing capacity on cropping systems modelling to promote food security and the sustainable use of water resources in South Asia” funded by Australian Government which was challenging and new experiences of SAC. The Centre is also implementing SAARC-FAO technical cooperation project on” Strengthening the Capacity of SAARC in the Development, Coordination and Monitoring of a Regional Food Security and Nutrition Framework, Strategies and Programmes”. 
The Centre has developed project for SDF funding “Livelihood Enhancement of the Rural Poor in SAARC Region through Small-scale Agro-business focusing on Value Chain Development”. The Centre has signed Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with IRRI, CIRDAP, ISC and ICRISAT for mutual cooperation to promote agricultural research and development in the region. Apart from this, SAC is organizing its activities in collaboration with international partners like FAO, APAARI, GFAR, APO, APN, ILRI, CIMMYT, IFPRI, ICARDA and ICRAF, which have opened new windows as well as dimension of the activities of the centre.
 
 
SAARC’s partnership with the development partners
The Secretariat is now implementing four projects in the field of agriculture, rural development and food security supported by four different development partners. With FAO and OIE, SAARC just completed a joint project on controlling PPR that is peste des petis ruminants. Another project is supported by FAO for strengthening the Capacity of the Secretariat and SAC in the Development, Co-ordination and Monitoring of a Regional Food Security and Nutrition Framework, Strategies and Programmes. The implementations of the projects are at various stages. 
While the projects on PPR aimed to develop regional roadmap for eradication of the disease, TADs project is to carry forward the objectives of the EU supported Highly Pathogenic and Emerging Diseases (HPED) project, the strengthening SAARC Secretariat and SAC project planned to revisit the seven food security projects approved by the Thirty-eighth and Thirty-ninth sessions of the Standing Committee, organize donors’ meeting and developing SAARC framework and action plan for regional food and nutrition security. 
The Secretariat also implementing two more study projects with support of UNESCAP and International Fund for Agriculture Development (IFAD) on “SAARC Food Bank: Institutional Architecture and Issues of operationalization” and “Strengthening the Role of SAARC in the Sustainable Intensification of Agriculture in South Asia” respectively. Recently, the Secretariat submitted a USD3.5 million dollar project to the IFAD Headquarters for developing efficiency in water management. For the record, this would be the first ever natural resource based cooperation in SAARC.
 

Project based Cooperation
a. Agriculture and Rural Development Projects funded through the SDF:
Four of the nine priority projects that the SDF has been implementing regionally (with total amount of USD 62.51 million), relate to Agriculture.  These projects are: Strengthening the livelihood initiative for home based workers in SAARC Region (SABAH) amounting US$ 16,775,821; Scaling up of Zero Energy Cold Storage (ZECS) technology for the horticultural commodities in the high hills of SAARC countries for US$ 3,380,931; Empowering Rural Communities “Reaching the Unreached” with budget support of US$ 7,938,335 and Post Harvest Management and Value Addition of Fruits in Production Catchments in SAARC Countries of US$ 4,979,075.
 
b. External Funded Projects
Following the SAARC higher bodies’ directives, the Secretariat is regularly partnering with the UN agencies and other international organizations for implementing potential regional projects. At present, the Secretariat is implementing six regional projects in the field of agriculture, rural development and food security including (i) SAARC Food Security through control of Trans-boundary Animal Diseases supported by ADB, (ii) Strengthening the Capacity of SAARC in the Development, Co-ordination and Monitoring of a Regional Food Security and Nutrition Framework, Strategies and Programmes supported by FAO, (iii) Strengthening the Role of SAARC in the Sustainable Intensification of Agriculture in South Asia with IFAD and (iv) one on Support to address the avian influenza and other high impact animal diseases in Asia supported by the Government of Korea.
Under the aegis of GF-TAD, HPED project was implemented with financial support from the EU. As stipulated in the project document, Regional Support Unit (RSU) and Regional Epidemiological Center (REC) have been established in Kathmandu. The Project also established networking among the professionals and three Lead Diagnostic Laboratories have been established in three different countries e.g. Pakistan for Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI); India for Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) and Bangladesh for Peste-de-Petis (PPR).

Environment, Natural Disasters and Biotechnology
Biotechnology
The need to institutionalize and promote cooperation in the area of Biotechnology has been recognized by the Heads of State or Government at various SAARC Summits since 1990. From 1990-2003, cooperation the area of Biotechnology was pursued by the Technical Committee on Science and Technology. A Working Group on Biotechnology was established in 2004 as a part of the restructured SAARC Integrated Programme of Action to coordinate regional cooperation in the area of Biotechnology.
The Programme for Cooperation in the field of Biotechnology provides for cooperation in the following areas:
1. Medical Biotechnology
2. Agricultural Biotechnology
3. Environmental Biotechnology
4. Animal Biotechnology
5. Marine Biotechnology
6. Bioinformatics
7. Plant Tissue Culture
8. Genetically Modified Organisms and bio-safety
9. Marker Assisted Selection
10. Bio-fertilizer and Bio-gas
11. Vaccine Production
12. Genomics and Proteomics
13. Nano-biotechnology
14. RNA interference technology platform
15. Stem cell research
16. Industrial biotechnology
 
Cooperation the identified areas as listed above among the Member States of SAARC will be pursued through hosting of conferences and workshops; post-doctoral fellowships; joint research projects; and exchange of visits among scientists and specialists from the region.

 
Environment, Climate Change and Natural Disasters
The Heads of State or Government of the Member States of SAARC, at successive Summits since 1987, have reiterated the need to strengthen and intensify regional cooperation to preserve, protect and manage the diverse and fragile eco-systems of the region including the need to address the challenges posed by climate change and natural disasters. The Leaders noted that the development process and prospects of the Member States were being severely undermined by these challenges.
The preservation and protection of the environment including disaster risk reduction and management remains a high priority on the agenda of cooperation being pursued by the Member States of SAARC. The numerous directives issued by successive SAARC Summits and meetings of the SAARC Environment Ministers provide continued impetus for strengthening and intensifying regional cooperation in the areas of environment, climate change and natural disasters.
The meetings of the SAARC Environment Ministers and the Technical Committee on Environment and Forestry also provide key mechanisms to guide and facilitate the agenda of cooperation.
Regional Centers have also been established and constitute an important framework of SAARC Institutions, which address diverse aspects of environment, climate change and natural disasters. 

Collaboration with Inter-governmental Organizations
SAARC is collaborating with many regional and international organizations, and has signed Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the South Asia Cooperative Environment Programme (SACEP) in July 2004; United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) in June 2007; the United Nations International Strategy on Disaster Reduction (UNISDR) in September 2008 and Asia Disaster Preparedness Centre (ADPC). The MOUs are renewed as may be required. These agencies extend technical and financial support in implementing SAARC programmes.
SAARC is an accredited Observer of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) since COP 16 (Cancun, Mexico, 29 November-10 December 2010) and has presented common SAARC positions on climate change.

Economic and Financial Cooperation 
At their Eighteenth SAARC Summit held in Kathmandu on 26-27 November 2014, the Heads of State or Government expressed their strong determination to deepen regional integration for peace, stability and prosperity in South Asia by intensifying cooperation, inter alia, in trade, investment, finance, energy, security, infrastructure, connectivity and culture; and implementing projects, programmes and activities in a prioritized, result-oriented and time-bound manner. 
The Leaders renewed their commitment to achieve South Asian Economic Union (SAEU) in a phased and planned manner through a Free Trade Area, a Customs Union, a Common Market, and a Common Economic and Monetary Union. They acknowledged that SAARC Member States, particularly the Least Developed and Landlocked Member States, face structural constraints and challenges that result in their weak productive capacity affecting their competitiveness in external trade due to, among others, high trade and transit cost. 

 
Connectivity
The Eighteenth SAARC Summit welcomed the significant progress towards finalization of the SAARC Motor Vehicles Agreement and SAARC Regional Railways Agreement. The Heads of State or Government agreed to hold a Meeting of the Transport Ministers within three months in order to finalize the Agreements for approval. They renewed their commitment to substantially enhance regional connectivity in a seamless manner through building and upgrading roads, railways, waterways infrastructure, energy grids, communications and air links to ensure smooth cross-border flow of goods, services, capital, technology and people. 

Regional Economic Integration Study (Phase-II)
As mandated by SAARC Leaders and on the request of SAARC Secretariat, Kathmandu, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) conducted a Study on Regional Economic Integration for SAARC in 201 The Forty-first Session of Standing Committee considered and approved the Draft Study on Regional Economic Integration (Phase-II) concluded with the financial and technical assistance of ADB. 
The Study was launched during the Opening Session of the Council of Ministers held in Kathmandu on 25 November 2014. As recommended by the Standing Committee, two SAARC-ADB Special Meetings of representatives of Commerce and Finance Ministries on Regional Economic Integration Study (Phase-II) have been held in Goa, India on 14-15 April 2015 and in Malé, Maldives on 27-28 January 2016 to prioritize the recommendations contained in the Study for implementation. 
The First Meeting recommended that the timelines for action to be taken for implementation of above prioritized recommendations may be taken up by the forthcoming Tenth Meeting of SAFTA Committee of Experts. However, noting the fact that the SAFTA Meetings have not been held so far, the Second SAARC-ADB Special Meeting held in the Maldives on 27-28 January 2016 proposed timelines for implementation of the identified recommendations for consideration of higher authorities of SAARC. 
The Meeting also noted that several SAARC Mechanisms are already engaged in activities which would lead to further regional economic integration. These Meetings included those of SAARC Finance Ministers/Finance Secretaries, SAFTA Ministerial Council comprising SAARC Commerce Ministers, Meetings organised by South Asian Regional Standards Organisation (SARSO) and SAARC Arbitration Council (SARCO). The deliberations of these Meetings contribute towards implementation of some of the prioritized recommendations contained in the Study. 
The Third SAARC-ADB Special Meeting on Regional Economic Integration Study (Phase-II) is scheduled to be held in Islamabad, Pakistan on 12-13 April 2017. The Theme of the Meeting would be “Transport Connectivity”. Some of the important issues to be discussed during the Third Meeting would include the Role of Transport Connectivity in Trade Facilitation for moving towards South Asian Economic Union (SAEU); Review of Progress in launching Indian Ocean Cargo and Passenger Ferry Service; Review of Progress in the implementation of identified recommendations of the SAARC-ADB Regional Economic Integration Study (Phase-II) for moving towards South Asian Economic Union (SAEU); and discussion on future course of action.
 
 
Committee on Economic Cooperation (CEC)
The CEC comprising Trade/Commerce Secretaries of SAARC Member States was established to oversee and monitor the trade and economic cooperation under the framework of SAARC in 1991. Fifteen Meetings of CEC have been held so far. 
The First Meeting of SAARC Finance Ministers approved the establishment of an Inter-Governmental Expert Group on Financial Issues with a mandate to develop its draft Terms of Reference based on the areas outlined by the SAARC Leaders at their Thirteenth Summit, including development of a roadmap for achieving the South Asian Economic Union (SAEU) in a gradual and phased manner.
The Fifth Meeting of SAARC Finance Ministers (Dhaka, 30 January 2012) agreed that the region should evolve joint strategies for facing the impact of global economic crisis in a spirit of mutual cooperation. There is need to initiate effective and coordinated policy action in monetary and fiscal arena to avoid possible risks. It may be necessary to examine the need to develop a regional coordinated surveillance mechanism to forecast the fall-out of external shocks which may create an economic and financial dislocation within the SAARC region. For this purpose, a detailed study may be conducted on possible regional strategy with the help of regional/international financial institutions like ADB. Accordingly, a Study is being conducted with the help of ADB. 

Information and Poverty Alleviation
I. Poverty Alleviation
Under this area of cooperation, there are following mechanisms:
i. Ministerial Meeting
ii. Senior Officials Meeting
iii. Inter-governmental Expert Group Meeting
Ministerial Forum is preceeded by Secretary Level Meeting. SAARC Plan of Action on Poverty Alleviation had been developed and implemented. Annual reporting and assessing of the progress is done through Ministerial Meeting. Secretariat has brought out publications called the Regional Poverty Profile (RPP) until 2009-2010. Member States have decided to replace the publication of the Regional Poverty Profile with the SAARC Development Report from 2017 onwards.
SAARC Minister on Poverty Alleviation have met four times and recommended several initiatives, including contextualization of 2030 Development Agenda from regional perspective, funding of SAARC Projects on Poverty Alleviation under Social Wing of SAARC Development Fund (SDF), such as SAARC Handicraft Development Centre, SAARC Model Village, Renewable Energy Development and Livelihood Perspective in South Asia, Review of SAARC Plan of Action on Poverty Alleviation (PAPA) – 2004.  

New Areas of Cooperation: ‘Labour Migration’, ‘Cooperatives’ and ‘Blue Economy’
The Leaders at the Eighteenth SAARC Summit (Kathmandu, 26-27 November 2014) expressed their strong determination to deepen regional integration for peace, stability and prosperity in South Asia by intensifying cooperation, including in three new areas, namely ‘Migration’ and ‘Cooperatives’, and ‘Blue Economy’.
Migration: 
The Leaders, “agreed to collaborate and cooperate on safe, orderly and responsible management of labour migration from South Asia to ensure safety, security and wellbeing of their migrant workers in the destination countries outside the Region”. ’The SAARC Plan of Action for Cooperation on Matters Related to Migration has been finalized and zero draft of ‘SAARC Declaration on Labour Migration’ has been circulated among Member States. Setting up of a SAARC Technical Committee on Labour Migration and establishing a SAARC Ministerial Forum dealing with labour migration is in the process.
Cooperatives: 
The Leaders “recognized the potential of cooperatives in achieving inclusive, broad-based and sustainable economic growth and development, and called for sharing of experiences, expertise and best practices in this sector”.  The Secretariat has circulated a Concept Note on ‘Cooperatives,’ received from the Government of Nepal to the Member States. It is under consideration of the Member States.   
Blue Economy: 
The Leaders recognized the manifold contributions of ocean-based ‘Blue Economy’ in the SAARC Region and the need for collaboration and partnership in this area.  The SAARC Secretariat has circulated a Concept Note on Blue Economy, received from Bangladesh, to the Member States. It is under consideration of the Member States. 

 
II. Telecommunications and ICT
The Working Group on Telecommunications and ICT was established, by the Council of Ministers during its Twenty-fourth Session held in Islamabad in January 2004. 
Major Issues:
1. Reduction of Call Rates among SAARC countries and rationalization of tariff structures
2. Multilateral utilization of terrestrial communications routes among SAARC countries; Up-gradation of National and Regional Telecom Infrastructure;
3. Utilization of Existing Infrastructure, including SASEC Project by SAAARC Member States;
4. Connectivity among Member States;
5. Utilization of National Knowledge Network facilities by Member States;
6. Establishing Regional Connectivity Hub and its utilization;
7. Universal Access to Telecommunications Services;
8. Development of the Performance Indicators on Telecommunications sector in the Member States of SAARC
9. Consideration of Matter regarding signing of MOU on Tele-Education E-Network
10. Cross-border interference on Radio Signals

Cyber Security
1. Improving the Telecommunication Linkages to Reduce Call Rates and Telecommunication Tariffs and Interconnection Termination Charges among SAARC Countries and Development of Regional Telecommunications Infrastructure
2. Following the closure of two Regional Centres, i.e. SAARC Information Centre and SAARC Documentation Centre, the working group has included the following areas under its purview:
3. Use of Information and Communication Technology in the fields of education, public health, agriculture, disaster management, etc;
4. Communication and Information Policy for SAARC Member States;
5. Contemporary Trends in Communication in   SAARC;
6. People to People Contact through Communication Tools and Techniques;
 
 
SAARC Knowledge Network
The Government of India has made available a Concept Paper on “National Knowledge Network Connectivity with SAARC Countries”. It is under consideration of the Member States.

South Asian Postal Union
SAARC Member States had considered setting up South Asian Postal Union. A Concept Paper regarding formation of a South Asian Postal Union (SAPU) prepared by India was first discussed in the Second Meeting of the Working Group on Telecommunications and Information and Communications Technology (New Delhi, 3-4 April 2008).A Draft Constitution and General Regulations for the Establishment of SAPU has also be prepared. An interim Secretariat of SAPU had been established in New Delhi.  
The SAARC Secretariat is exploring the possibility of Cooperation with Universal Postal Union/Asia Pacific Postal Union on areas such as capacity building, technical assistance etc.
 

III. Working Group on Information and Media
The Fifty-second Session of the Programming Committee (Kathmandu, 14-15 March 2016), while considering matters relating to Heads of National TV, Radio and News Agencies (HTRN) and SAARC Audio Visual Exchange Programme (SAVE) had decided that the existing SAARC mechanism of HTRN/SAVE will be renamed as the ‘Working Group on Information and Media’. The work pertaining to formation of Working Group on Information and Media is underway.
 

Education
The SAARC principles have recognized the literacy is a fundamental human right and the foundation for lifelong learning which adopt through education. It is fully essential to social and human development in its ability to transform lives. For individuals, families, and societies alike, it is an instrument of empowerment to improve one’s health, one’s income, and one’s relationship with the world.
Therefore, the leaders of the SAARC member States have given special attention to enhance the level of literacy in the region by promoting the quality of education. Illiteracy was a major impediment to economic development and social emancipation and that the eradication of illiteracy in the Region including through co-operative endeavours within SAARC must continue to be pursued resolutely.
To enhance the literacy level in the region, recognizing the resource, manpower and infrastructural constraints to the promotion of vocational and higher education in the region, the Leaders at the Ninth Summit (Malé, 12-14 May 1997) agreed that new and innovative methods like Open Learning and Distance Education can play an effective role in meeting regional needs in a cost effective and flexible manner. Accordingly, the leaders agreed that the institutional facilities in such education available in the region should be utilized on a regional scale. The possibility of the creation of a Consortium of Open Universities in the region should also be explored.

 
Security Aspects
SAARC has implemented many directives to ensure the security from terrorism, drug trafficking, child and women trafficking, transnational crimes which are common social evils within the region. It was emphasized in many SAARC meetings that while condemning terrorism, in all its forms and manifestations, collective actions in fighting this menace and stressed that terrorists should not escape prosecution.
The necessity of identifying the practical solutions to address the challenges on controlling the cybercrimes, transnational organized crimes, to ensure the safety and security for the social and economic growth, especially, to ensure a secure future for the youth, women and children are also highlighted. Therefore, SAARC is trying to improve the monitoring system, exchange of information and exchange of technology to fight these common social evils within the region.
During the Second SAARC Summit (Bangalore, 16-17 November 1986), the Heads of State or Government agreed that co-operation among SAARC States was vital if terrorism was to be prevented and eliminated from the region. The leaders unequivocally condemned all acts, methods and practices of terrorism as criminal and deplored their impact on life and property, social economic development, political stability, regional and international peace and co-operation.
 
 
Related activities/initiatives
SAARC’s Successes and Failures
 The South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) is a geopolitical organization of eight countries of South Asia – Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka.Establishment – 1985Headquarters – Kathmandu, Nepal Observer States – Australia, China, the European Union, Iran, Japan, Mauritius, Myanmar, South Korea and the United States.GDP (PPP) – US $ 9 Trillion (2014)
SAPTA is the SAARC Preferential Trading Arrangement (SAPTA) was signed in 1993 and entered into force in 1995. The Agreement reflected the desire of the Member States to promote and sustain mutual trade and economic cooperation within the SAARC region through the exchange of concessions.SAPTA had no significant impact on intra-regional trade of SAARC -It was firstly, one of the least ambitious trading agreements.
The agreement provided for a positive list; the trade of the items on positive list could be regulated.There was a lack of commitments on tariff reduction; it was a completely voluntary arrangement.There was no clarity on rules of origin.There was no provision for a Dispute Settlement Mechanism.
SAFTA = The South Asian Free Trade Area (SAFTA) is an agreement reached in 2004 to create SAARC free trade area. The members of SAARC signed a framework agreement on SAFTA to reduce customs duties of all traded goods to zero by the year 2016. The SAFTA agreement came into force on 1 January 2006 and is operational following the ratification of the agreement by the seven governments.Major instruments of SAFTA:- Trade Liberalisation Programme, Rules of Origin, Institutional Arrangements, Consultations and Dispute Settlement Procedures, Safeguard Measures, Special Provisions for Least Developing Countries of SAARC.
Though an advance over SAPTA, SAFTA has not been able to improve the trade relations of SAARC members significantly -Intra-regional trade is still below 5% of the total trade of the SAARC members.The concept of ‘sensitive list’ exists in SAFTA; trade of the commodities on sensitive list can be regulated by the countries. The countries continue to maintain big sensitive lists.Though there is a commitment on reducing tariff barriers; non-tariff barriers still remain high.
The trade between India-Pakistan, the two largest members of SAARC, is still languishing at less than 3 billion US $; studies suggest that an equal amount of trade happens through the Dubai route and illegal trade. Pakistan is yet to award India, the status of Most Favored Nation (MFN).

SAARC Successes
Over the last 25 years, despite extremely difficult political circumstances, SAARC has managed to create situations, institutions and forums where Heads of State have had to shake each other’s’ hands and go into talks together. SAARC has tackled important topics for the region such as a social charter, development agreements and even the sensitive subject of fighting terrorism. The food and development banks, Agreement on Transportation, Energy are important steps in the right direction. Exchanges in the areas of civil society and science have become one of the pillars of South Asian integration efforts.

SAARC Failures
In its 30 years of existence, SAARC failed to hold 11 annual summits for political reasons, both at the bilateral and internal levels. The last summit in Kathmandu was held after a gap of three years. The intra-regional trade of SAARC amounted to $40.5 billion in 2011, which constitutes just 5% of member countries’ trade. The number pales into insignificance when compared with the volume of trilateral trade between member-countries of NAFTA, the North American Free Trade Agreement, (the US, Canada and Mexico) which hit $1 trillion in 2011. While different regions of the world have progressed even to monetary union, SAARC has failed to even come up with a free trade agreement. Even in the Kathmandu Summit 2014, there were three connectivity agreements on road, rail and energy, to be endorsed by the eight SAARC leaders. Only one of these – on energy – has been signed.

Reasons for failure
1. Weak Cultural Identities: The South Asian Region comprises countries sharing common history, heritage and culture. The horrors of divisions and sub-divisions have however created fissures. These fissures are commonly articulated through the ideas of distinct cultures. Pakistan wants to assert itself as Islamic State and calls India a Hindu State. The debates regarding identity are similarly going on in Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. The pursuit of maintaining distinct cultural identity by every country has not allowed the region to come together.
2. Conflict between India and Pakistan: Rivalry between India and Pakistan, the two largest members of SAARC, has hovered hugely on SAARC. The rivalry continues to restrain SAARC from functioning as a sub-regional organization.
3. Indian Foreign Policy: Indian Foreign Policy actions – 1971 war, Indo-Sri Lanka Accord continue to haunt the neighboring countries. India has not forcefully articulated South Asian Vision; even the progressive ideas like the Gujral Doctrine have not been implemented on ground.
4. Unresolved Border and Maritime Issues: The region is still beset with many unresolved border and maritime issues. These unresolved borders have led to problems of Terrorism, Refugee Crisis, Smuggling, Narco-Trade. The unresolved issues continue to mar cooperative relations.
5. Role of External Powers, especially China: India’s ambitions in the region crisscross with China’s ambitions to have an influence on the region. China has in past decade strengthened its relations with Bangladesh, Sri Lanka. This has led to a trust deficit in the grouping.
6. SAARC Charter Article X(2) of the SAARC Charter mandates that decisions, at all levels in SAARC, are only of multilateral issues, and only those issues are for inclusion in the agenda in a SAARC summit meeting on the basis of unanimity. The SAARC platform thus cannot be used to resolve bilateral issues; this has undermined the scope and potential of SAARC.

BRICS
The acronym “BRICs” was initially formulated in 2001 by economist Jim O’Neill, of Goldman Sachs, in a report on growth prospects for the economies of Brazil, Russia, India and China – which together represented a significant share of the world’s production and population.
In 2006, the four countries initiated a regular informal diplomatic coordination, with annual meetings of Foreign Ministers at the margins of the General Debate of the UN General Assembly (UNGA). This successful interaction led to the decision that the dialogue was to be carried out at the level of Heads of State and Government in annual Summits. 
As of the First Summit, held in Yekaterinburg in 2009, the depth and scope of the dialogue among the Members of BRICs – which became BRICS in 2011 with the inclusion of South Africa – was further enhanced. More than an acronym that identified countries emerging in the international economic order, BRICS became a new and promising political-diplomatic entity, far beyond the original concept tailored for the financial markets.
After the Yekaterinburg Summit, five annual Summits were held (Brasilia, 2010; Sanya, 2011; New Delhi, 2012; Durban, 2013; and Fortaleza, 2014). The leaders of the member countries have been holding at least one annual meeting. In Durban last year, the first cycle of Summits was completed, each member country having hosted a meeting of leaders. 
In this period, BRICS has evolved in an incremental manner, in areas of consensus amongst its members, strengthening its two main pillars: (i) coordination in multilateral fora, with a focus on economic and political governance; and (ii) cooperation between members.
Regarding the first pillar, the efforts towards reforming the structures of global governance, especially in the economic and financial fields – Financial G-20, International Monetary Fund, World Bank – receive a special emphasis, as well the reform of political institutions, such as the United Nations.
Intra-BRICS cooperation has also been gaining density: a broad agenda has been developed, comprising areas such as finance, agriculture, economy and trade, combating transnational crime, science and technology, health, education, corporate and academic dialogue and security, among others.
In that context, the financial sector receives a special focus as a new front of cooperation. At its 6th Summit, the BRICS established the New Development Bank, aimed at financing infrastructure and sustainable development projects in the BRICS and other developing countries. The new institution will count initially with a subscribed capital of US$ 50 billion.
Likewise, the BRICS also concluded the agreement that creates the Contingent Reserves Arrangement (CRA), a fund with an initial sum of US$ 100 billion, which the BRICS countries will be able to use to forestall short-term liquidity pressures. One of the objectives of the CRA is to contribute to international financial stability, by providing an additional line of defense to the BRICS. The establishment of the Bank and the CRA conveyed a strong message on the willingness of BRICS members to deepen and consolidate their partnership in the economic-financial area.
Since its inception, the BRICS has expanded its activities in two main streams of work: (i) coordination in meetings and international organization; and (ii) the development of an agenda for multisectorial cooperation among its members. In relation to the BRICS coordination in international fora and organizations, the mechanism focusses on the economic-financial and political governance spheres. As to the first, the BRICS agenda prioritized G-20 cooperation, including the IMF reform. 
In the political realm, the BRICS advocate the reform of the United Nations and of its Security Council, aiming for more inclusive representation and a more democratic international governance. Moreover, the BRICS maintain a constant dialogue on the main issues on the international agenda.
Five years after the first Summit, in 2009, the intra-BRICS activities already cover 30 areas such as: agriculture, science and technology, culture, outer space, think tanks, Internet governance and security, social welfare, intellectual property, health, and tourism, among others. 
The economic-financial sphere stands out as one of the most promising areas of activity for the BRICS. Two instruments of special importance were signed at the VI BRICS Summit (Fortaleza, July 2014): the constituent agreements of the New Development Bank (NDB) – aimed at the financing of infrastructure projects and sustainable development in emerging economies and developing countries – and the Contingent Reserves Arrangement (CRA) – which has the goal of promoting mutual support amongst the BRICS members in situations of instability in the balance of payments. The initial capital subscribed to the NBD was $50 billion and the authorized capital was $100 billion. The resources allocated to the CRA, in turn, will amount to $100 billion.
The political coordination between BRICS members has been and will continue to be undertaken without any element of confrontation with other countries. The BRICS are open to cooperation and constructive engagement with other countries, as well as open with international and regional organizations in dealing with current international issues.

Concerns regarding the future of BRICS
The 9th BRICS summit in Xiamen, China is not a routine meeting because it comes at a time when the bloc is entering a new stage of intensive development. Moreover, it is the place for China to demonstrate its new role in international relations and the global economy. The summit also comes at a time of increased political tensions in different areas, both close to the venue itself – that is, the Korean peninsula – and faraway Syria and the Middle East.
At the same time, US policy seems to be in disarray and there is no clear understanding of how US President Donald Trump’s inward looking economic policy would be coordinated with the aggressive interference in other countries, which still remains the trademark of his administration’s activities despite his intention to withdraw from many regions.
BRICS, therefore, should demonstrate its role as an alternative source of power, derived from the combination of global rising powers that can contribute to the stability of the world order and introduce new rules of behavior, and new rules of cooperation on an international scale.
Regional security issues are acute. The BRICS mechanism has already proved its efficiency in becoming a channel for finding solutions in the bilateral and intra-BRICS political arena. It was during a BRICS High Representatives meeting in China when Chinese and Indian officials found compromise to the Doklam territorial issue. For most of this summer, Indian and Chinese troops were engaged in a tense military standoff in the Doklam area on the Sikkim sector of the India-China border.
Their compromise to disengage on August 28 was implemented just in time so as to not aggravate the BRICS summit. BRICS will also be united on issues like the Korean peninsula and the need for a diplomatic solution to this problem, and on the fight against terrorism as well as other hot issues of today’s world. BRICS is in fact presenting a clear-cut strategy of creating a just world order which facilitates an increasing role for developing nations, including the bloc.
In fact, BRICS is becoming the meeting place for developing countries and the platform for South-South cooperation. The “BRICS-plus” concept introduced by China (to invite five other nations to attend the Summit) is the innovation that brings to the BRICS process other regional powers on a permanent basis, and not on a case-by-case basis which it was before. We hope that it is not a one time event and in the future a sort of “BRICS friends club” will emerge that will help these countries to cooperate with BRICS on various economic and political bases.

Financial Redesign
BRICS is particularly interested in the financial architecture of the world, and the Xiamen Summit will help develop the new approaches to increasing the influential role of BRICS and other developing countries in structures like the IMF and World Bank. A demonstration of this financial vigor is nowhere more evident than in the increasing activity of the New Development Bank.
It has adopted its long-term strategy; it just opened its branch office in Johannesburg (South Africa) and is scheduled to open such branch offices in other BRICS countries. The Bank has already disbursed $1.5 billion in the first seven credit lines for all BRICS countries and now is planning to disburse another $2.5 to 3 billion this year for projects as different as Russian judicial system informatisation and Chinese ecological projects. 
The BRICS summit will surely defend the bloc’s position on the observation of WTO rules, will strongly stand against protectionism and economic discrimination, sanctions and attempts to downgrade the ratings of BRICS countries. It is also vital that BRICS brings new ideas into the information security sphere, suggesting to sign a new intra-BRICS agreement on international information security.
This is a very logical sphere of BRICS’s interest because the five nations comprise the greatest number of internet users in the world and access should not be a national regulated enterprise but the sphere of necessity for all mankind. This is part of where BRICS can demonstrate a new level of cooperation in humanitarian and people exchange in the science and technology, civil sector, youth, women etc.
China’s hosting of the summit, in line with the Beijing leadership’s commitment to increase multilateralism and globalization, will help BRICS move further intensively and extensively by pushing from the project inception stage to discussions, from discussions to signing the agreements and the real “on the ground” implementation. That will help consolidate BRICS’s role as a vital player in global governance.

BCIM
One of the major policy initiatives among national governments in Asia in recent years is directed towards developing sub-regional, regional and trans-regional corridors with the aim to further connect and integrate their economies. One such corridor is the proposed Bangladesh, China, India and Myanmar-Economic Corridor (BCIM-EC) involving four nations and has generated much interests as well as concerns. While the former focuses on its potentials, particularly in transforming landlocked and underdeveloped border regions of the countries involved, the latter pays more attention to the strategic implications it might have on the region. 
In the late 1990s some ideas emerged from China’s Yunnan Province about a possible sub-regional cooperation involving south-western China, eastern India and the whole of Myanmar and Bangladesh. One of the first tasks was in defining this “zone” as a sub-region. The proponents of the idea argued that this zone contains a few key essential characteristics based on which cooperation at the level of sub-region could be explored.
Among other features, this zone is seen as “the meeting point of the three markets of China, Southeast Asia and South Asia” and thereby connecting “two major markets of China and India and even the whole of Asia”. Second, even as the sub-region suffers from poor infrastructure, its rich natural resources promise huge potential for large-scale development. Third, the sub-region is “isolated from global markets and is characterised by relative poverty”. Lastly, all the four countries have actively participated in regional and sub-regional organisations with the aim to integrate into the global economy.
Having argued that this zone shares certain characteristics that could form the basis for cooperation, a few likely benefits were visualised. First, it was felt that if China and India could cooperate in regional affairs through such a mechanism, it would contribute to promoting peace and stability of Asia and the world. Second, such cooperation at the sub-regional level could also help in “rooting out social evils such as drug production and trafficking.” 
Third, it would also “assist in the alleviation of poverty and promote social development” and lastly it would “connect the unlinked markets of Asia and thus integrate” the whole continent. Five key areas were outlined as the immediate plan – building modern communication and transportation networks – thus connect the sub-region by rail, road and air routes; the expansion of intra-regional trade; the development of tourism; the institution of economic and technological cooperation by leveraging ancient ties; and the promotion of cultural exchanges.
Conceived as a sub-regional economic cooperation, the above ideas formed the basis of launching the BCIM initiative in 1999 in Kunming, the capital of Chinese Yunnan province. As evident from the above discussion, two prominent objectives had driven the BCIM initiative since the beginning – one is economic integration of the sub-region that would also enable integration of Asia and the other is development of the border regions. The BCIM priority agenda has evolved over time. From the 3-T’s of Trade, Transport, and Tourism, the BCIM priority agenda has moved to TTE (Trade, Transport, and Energy). 
Apart from these items, social, cultural and environmental issues were also brought on the table for discussion but the focus increasingly has favoured trade, connectivity and energy cooperation. Some proponents continue to argue for the “soft” agenda to be brought back in the BCIM dialogue as this is seen “more feasible” in the sub-region and will have direct positive impact on “the livelihoods and aspirations of the peoples in the borderlands.” The idea of multi-modal transportation was also added to the BCIM connectivity agenda with the focus on Inland Water Transportation and the promotion of port development and coastal shipping.
The year 2013 was crucial in the development of BCIM initiative. In February that year a car rally from Kunming to Kolkata (K2K) was organised with great success. It took six years for the rally to materialise ever since the idea was first mooted in 2006 by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh during Chinese President Hu Jintao’s visit to New Delhi. This event gave a new energy to policy makers and other stakeholders to take a renewed interest and confidence that a physical connection linking the four countries was indeed achievable. 
The most important indication of this confidence was reflected during Chinese Premier Li Keqiang’s visit to India a couple of months after the car rally. For the first time since its existence for more than a decade, the BCIM initiative received its high-level endorsement. The joint statement issued during Premier Li’s India visit stated that both sides agreed to consult the other parties on “establishing a Joint Study Group on strengthening connectivity in the BCIM region for closer economic, trade and people-to-people linkages and initiating the development of a BCIM Economic Corridor.”

Future Prospects
Many observers in South Asia see the BCIM initiative as “an emerging opportunity” that could be a “game changer” for the region. Such assessments are clearly driven by the prospects of economic benefits at a time when bilateral trade in the BCIM countries is growing rapidly in recent years. However, there are other issues and challenges that are still at play when the initiative is seen from the political prism. 
Some issues have been inherent in the BCIM initiative since the beginning. Government involvement in the BCIM initiative has been not different in terms of both the attitude and level of participation. Since the beginning the BCIM was a Track I activity for China and Myanmar with the Burmese central government on the one hand and the Yunnan Provincial government taking the lead role. For India and Bangladesh, the BCIM began as a Track II initiative and soon Dhaka decided to move towards Track I. The BCIM remained largely a Track II activity as far as New Delhi was concerned until the India-China Joint Statement of May 2013 when the BCIM was officially endorsed at the highest level, thus moving towards Track I venture. 
An extension of this issue has also been reflected in the level of involvement and role of government. For instance, Yunnan province of China has played a leadership role in the BCIM discussions but this has not be the case the states from eastern India. While some of these issues continue to create challenges, new dilemmas and questions are also emerging on how to take the BCIM initiative forward.
First, there are two views emerging on the approach itself – one group arguing for an economic-centric approach and the other for a “more people-centric, inclusive approach mindful of local social realities.” The other dilemma is the tension between centralisation and decentralisation. The issue is whether the increasing centralisation of the initiative is in the right direction. This tension seems to be producing differences in perceptions and approaches to the BCIM project. Some observers have rightly asked whether the BCIM-EC is “to be conceived as a transnational zone of commercial engagements, enabled by physical and soft infrastructure? Or is it merely the shortest and most economical route between two end-points.”
 For instance, while people in border regions are more concerned about socio-economic and environmental impacts, national governments are more concerned with security and political issues. Thus, people in India’s northeast and upper Myanmar are increasingly talking about the likely impacts of the proposed corridor on society and environment. However, in the capitals of the four countries, the concerns are about security and geo-strategic implications of the project.
The third dilemma is the tension between regionalism and sub-regionalism. Is the BCIM project a regional initiative or a sub-regional initiative? Clarity on this question is important because it has policy implications in terms of framing the overall objectives of the BCIM project. There are some who point out that the issue is “whether the aim of the BCIM project is to develop the remote areas or to link the remote regions to the global supply chain?”
Another issue is whether the BCIM project should be driven by economic logic? If we look at the ground realities, so far the BCIM project has been driven by political and strategic considerations. Take for example the route of the BCIM Car Rally itself. There are some who argue that the decision on the current route of the BCIM-EC is not an economic decision but a politico-diplomatic decision. The route of the car rally avoided the populous and industrially developed Brahmaputra valley and altogether bypasses most of NE states. Is this route economically viable? 
Even as the economic viability of the route is important to consider, as mentioned earlier, the question is whether the current BCIM project is too narrowly driven by economic-centric approach. There is a view that a holistic approach is needed for the BCIM project where community-building forms the base of the initiative, thereby emphasising with social, cultural and environmental issues and making them integral part of the project.
Although river diversion is a controversial issue, some observers in India are of view that if China pursue river diversion and dam-building projects at the cost of environmental degradation and economic dislocation of the lower riparian countries, the BCIM corridor project may be adversely affected as such issues could impact relations among the member-states. Hence the need to understand the concerns of its neighbouring countries is important. 
Given the rich biodiversity of the region, questions have been raised about the impact of the project on the region’s fragile ecology since the project would involve clearing of forests, land acquisition and possible eviction. Notwithstanding the benefits, what will be the impact of the BCIM-EC on culture, demographic profile, environmental pollution, social security, economic exploitation, etc? Need for proper study on the likely impacts of the project to avert such undesirable scenarios is critical.
Lastly, before the announcement of the “One Belt One Road” initiative by China, the BCIM-EC was seen in India as a single project not connected with other initiatives that could be explored for mutual benefits. With the OBOR now emerging as the main topic of debates and discussions, there is a sense that China’s grand strategy of trans-boundary connectivity needs to be critically studied to better understand its implications on India’s strategic interests. This emerging concern is casting its shadow over the BCIM-EC. Even so, New Delhi continues to support the BCIM-EC initiative as part of its “Act East” policy. 
There is a growing sense among Indian strategic community that since “India lacks the resources today to set up competing networks; it may be worthwhile to participate in those components of the OBOR which might improve Indian connectivity to major markets and resources supplies.” With this logic, there is a view that “India will continue to cooperate with China where it can but India will be ready to compete when it must and be watchful that China does not use the OBOR as to build its military capabilities to India’s detriment.” Although India is committed to the BCIM it is likely that New Delhi would want to go slow with its implementation until it develops its own internal linkages with its Northeast region. In fact, China decided to open up its Western region after fully integrating the region into mainland China.

MGC
The Mekong-Ganga Cooperation (MGC) is an initiative by six countries – India and five ASEAN countries, namely, Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam for cooperation in tourism, culture, education, as well as transport and communications. It was launched in 2000 at Vientiane, Lao PDR. Both the Ganga and the Mekong are civilizational rivers, and the MGC initiative aims to facilitate closer contacts among the people inhabiting these two major river basins. The MGC is also indicative of the cultural and commercial linkages among the member countries of the MGC down the centuries.
The 1st MGC Ministerial Meeting was held in Vientiane from 9-13 November 2000. It issued the Vientiane Declaration on MGC covering cooperation in the 4 traditional areas. The 2nd MGC Ministerial Meeting was held in Hanoi on 28 July 2001, and adopted the Hanoi Programme of Action (HPA), a detailed Work Programme for six years (July 2001 to July 2007), providing specific actions for cooperation, in the 4 traditional areas. The 3rd MGC Ministerial Meeting was held in Phnom Penh on 20 June 2003 and provided additional political impetus to the MGC initiative. It adopted the Phnom Penh Roadmap.
The 7th MGC Ministerial Meeting was held in Vientiane on 24 July 2016 in a cordial atmosphere. Indian side was led by Gen. (Retd.) Dr. V. K. Singh, Minister of State for External Affairs. The Ministers of Foreign Affairs of other MGC countries were present at the meeting. A short film “The Power of Six” was screened on the most visible project of MGC viz. MGC Traditional Asian Textiles Museum built at Siam Reap, Cambodia emphasizing that it was a testimony to our cultural connect as well as modern connections.
MGC Ministerial Meeting was held after a gap of four years since 2012. New areas have since been added to the Work Programme such as cooperation in the field of SMEs, Rice Germplasm, health and pandemics, Nalanda University Archival Resource Centre and Quick Impact Projects. MGC cooperation has been expanding in the fields of trade, tourism, development, movement of people and goods. 

Areas of Cooperation
India announced 50 new ITEC scholarships for MGC countries in areas of culture, tourism, engineering, management, teachers training, film directing, sound, lighting and stage management in addition to 900 scholarships already given every year. New Centres of excellence in Software Development and Training were announced. Existing capacity building programmes in law enforcement, financial markets, ICT and space, to supplement the requirements of MGC partners was also announced.
3 Quick Impact Projects in Lao PDR and 2 in Myanmar are under consideration in addition to 9 in Cambodia and 5 in Vietnam already under implementation.

RCEP
Countries in East Asia region have thriving trade and economic relations with each other through free trade agreements. The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) has free trade agreements with six partners namely People’s Republic of China (ACFTA), Republic of Korea (AKFTA), Japan (AJCEP), India (AIFTA) as well as Australia and New Zealand (AANZFTA). 
In order to broaden and deepen the engagement among parties and to enhance parties’ participation in economic development of the region, the leaders of 16 participating countries established the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP). The RCEP was built upon the existing ASEAN+1 FTAs with the spirit to strengthen economic linkages and to enhance trade and investment related activities as well as to contribute to minimising development gap among the parties.
In August 2012, the 16 Economic Ministers endorsed the Guiding Principles and Objectives for Negotiating the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership. The RCEP negotiations were launched by Leaders from 10 ASEAN Member States (Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Viet Nam) and six ASEAN FTA partners (Australia, People’s Republic of China, India, Japan, Republic of Korea, and New Zealand) during the 21st ASEAN Summit and Related Summits in Phnom Penh, Cambodia in November 2012.
The objective of launching RCEP negotiations is to achieve a modern, comprehensive, high-quality, and mutually beneficial economic partnership agreement among the ASEAN Member States and ASEAN’s FTA partners. The RCEP negotiations commenced in early 2013.

Coverage Areas
The RCEP negotiation includes: trade in goods, trade in services, investment, economic and technical cooperation, intellectual property, competition, dispute settlement, e-commerce, small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and other issues.

WHAT RCEP MEANS FOR BUSINESSES
RCEP has the potential to deliver significant opportunities for businesses in the East Asia region, given the fact that the 16 RCEP participating countries account for almost half of the world’s population; contribute about 30 per cent of global GDP and over a quarter of world exports. RCEP will provide a framework aimed at lowering trade barriers and securing improved market access for goods and services for businesses in the region, through:
1. Recognition to ASEAN Centrality in the emerging regional economic architecture and the interests of ASEAN’s FTA partners in enhancing economic integration and strengthening economic cooperation among the participating countries;
2. Facilitation of trade and investment and enhanced transparency in trade and investment relations between the participating countries, as well as facilitation of SMEs’ engagements in global and regional supply chains; and 
3. Broaden and deepen ASEAN’s economic engagements with its FTA partners.
RCEP recognises the importance of being inclusive, especially to enable SMEs leverage on the agreement and cope with challenges arising from globalisation and trade liberalisation. SMEs (including micro-enterprises) make up more than 90% of business establishments across all RCEP participating countries and are important to every country’s endogenous development of their respective economy. At the same time, RCEP is committed to provide fair regional economic policies that mutually benefit both ASEAN and its FTA partners.

Challenges and concerns for India from Joining RCEP
RCEP is being negotiated between India and 15 other countries including the 10-member Asean, Japan, South Korea, New Zealand, Australia and China. With a high rate of poverty, a large rural population consisting mainly of small and marginal farmers and landless labourers, an immature industrial sector, a growing but narrow service sector and vulnerable health and education sectors, India had very rightly maintained a cautious approach in its FTAs on goods, intellectual property rights, and many new issues such as investment, government procurement and competition policy.
India’s cautious approach faces a major paradigm-shift given the current negotiations in RCEP. It has the potential to overthrow India’s policies of rural development and industrialisation especially ‘Make in India’, and the promise of the Prime Minister to provide accessible healthcare and medicines to all. Most important, it threatens the policy flexibility and sovereignty to pursue independent economic, social and environmental policies.
In goods trade, India has already agreed to give up the three-tier tariff reduction proposal that offered different coverage for Asean, Japan and South Korea, and a much lower level of tariff reduction coverage for New Zealand, Australia and China. Currently, it is believed to be under pressure to agree to uniform and very high product coverage of around 92 per cent for all partners. 
In agriculture and allied products, the plantation sector is already reeling from the impact of the India-Asean FTA even with relatively high protection of agriculture and a tariff-coverage of 73-80 per cent. If tariff cuts cover 92-80 per cent of products, the impact will be huge. On the other hand, New Zealand’s export-oriented dairy products will decimate India’s growing dairy sector, which is still largely small-scale.
If India offers to reduce/eliminate import tariffs on a larger number of industrial products than already committed to Asean, Japan and South Korea, its industrial sector could be under stress. Even without an FTA, India faces a total trade deficit of ₹3.45 lakh crore in 2015-16 with China. If India has to cut duties on 92 per cent of goods in RCEP, India will face threats from both Asean and China.

Self-defeating tactics
E-commerce commitments, if any, will allow companies such as Alibaba from China to displace Indian manufacturing especially in the SME segment. Further, India is being asked to eliminate export restrictions on minerals and raw material by Japan and South Korea; this may threaten domestic raw material availability for industrialisation and encourage over-mining.
India is openly pitching services as its offensive area of interest and may be willing to sacrifice goods tariffs for gains in services. This can be the most dangerous of India’s current trade policy stance and can backfire very easily. India has demands for both Mode 3 (investment) and Mode 4 (movement of people) with a proposal for a RCEP business visa for professionals. India’s demand for Mode 4 is unlikely to be granted. What India hopes to gain in Mode 3 for its outward FDI is not clear as it is not competitive in most services except for IT and ITES.
In spite of placing the new Model Bilateral Investment Treaty (BIT) text as a basis for investment protection negotiations and already facing 20 BITs cases, India is under heavy pressure to agree to the investor state dispute settlement provision in RCEP without the safeguards provided in the Model BIT. The investment chapter in RCEP is also pitching for strong provisions on IPRs. This framework will increase India’s liability and severely limit its policy space to implement any policy reform that is seen as detrimental to investors’ profits.
In the area of intellectual property rights, several members have been pushing provisions that go beyond TRIPS, with serious adverse consequences for access to generic medicines manufactured in IndiaAgreeing to data exclusivity, extending patent terms and unduly strong enforcement measures will weaken the entire generic medicine sector and take away several health safeguards in India’s Patent Act, notably section 3(d). This will make medicines inaccessible not only for Indian patients but for those in the entire developing world. In addition, since India has rightly fought against ‘TRIPS plus’ provisions in its FTA negotiations with EU and European Free Trade Association, there is no rationale for it to change its stance in RCEP.
Finally, it seems India may agree to binding e-commerce rules in RCEP. This will have several implications including compromising government revenues by losing potential customs duties, compromising regulation and control over the new and emerging trading space, threatening data privacy and security not only of individuals but also of the government, and compromising regulation across a number of government ministries including that of the finance, commerce and industry, health and education, labour and so on. For example, by giving away control over data, the Government may compromise potential future industrial policy and lose control over financial policy.
India seems to have resisted the pressure to agree to specific commitments in goods, services, and investment and other areas in Hanoi. But a push for negotiations to be concluded by this year seems to have been agreed, even if not in very specific terms. Conclusion this year will be highly premature. India needs to assess its own choices and weigh the impact on its whole policy space vis-a-vis the narrow base of the advantages that RCEP may offer.

East Asia Summit (EAS)
The East Asia Summit is a unique Leaders-led forum of 18 countries of the Asia-Pacific region formed to further the objectives of regional peace, security and prosperity. It has evolved as a forum for strategic dialogue and cooperation on political, security and economic issues of common regional concern and plays an important role in the regional architecture.
Established in 2005, EAS allows the principal players in the Asia-Pacific region to discuss issues of common interest and concern, in an open and transparent manner, at the highest level. The membership of EAS consists of ten ASEAN Member States (i.e. Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore, Thailand, the Philippines and Vietnam), Australia, China, India, Japan, New Zealand, Republic of Korea, Russian Federation and the USA. EAS is an initiative of ASEAN and is based on the premise of the centrality of ASEAN. 
The concept of an East Asia Grouping was first promoted in 1991 by the then Malaysian Prime Minister, Mahathir bin Mohamad. The final report of the East Asian Study Group in 2002, established by the ASEAN+3 countries (i.e. China, Japan and ROK), recommended EAS as an ASEAN led development limited to the ASEAN +3 countries. However, the ASEAN Ministerial Meeting (AMM) held in Vientiane on July 26, 2005 welcomed the participation of ASEAN, China, Japan, Republic of Korea, Australia, India and New Zealand, in the first EAS. USA and the Russian Federation were formally included as members of the EAS at the 6th EAS held in Bali, Indonesia on 19 November 2011.
Eleven East Asia Summits have been held so far. India has been a part of this process since its inception in 2005 in Kuala Lumpur and the fact that Indian Prime Ministers have participated in all the Summits, stands testimony to the importance India attaches to this process. The relevance of East Asia Summit has been aptly summarised by our Prime Minister, who in his speech at the 9th EAS, held in Myanmar in November 2014, stated that “no other forum brings together such a large collective weight of global population, youth, economy and military strength. Nor is any other forum is so critical for peace, stability and prosperity in Asia-Pacific and the world. 
Over the last eight Summits, we have made progress in a number of areas. We worked on important issues. We have begun to establish a culture and habit of dialogue and cooperation.” 
There are six priority areas of regional cooperation within the framework of the EAS. These are – Environment and Energy, Education, Finance, Global Health Issues and Pandemic Diseases, Natural Disaster Management, and ASEAN Connectivity. India endorses regional collaboration in all six priority areas.

TPP
Twelve countries that border the Pacific Ocean signed up to the TPP in February 2016, representing roughly 40% of the world’s economic output. The pact aimed to deepen economic ties between these nations, slashing tariffs and fostering trade to boost growth. Members had also hoped to foster a closer relationship on economic policies and regulation. The agreement was designed so that it could eventually create a new single market, something like that of the EU.
But all 12 nations needed to ratify it, before it could come into effect. Once Donald Trump won last year’s election, the writing was on the wall for the TPP. US participation was the major linchpin for the deal. It may be possible for the other countries to forge a smaller scale pact in its place, but it can’t go ahead in its current form. Those other member states are: Japan – the only country to have already ratified the pact – Malaysia, Vietnam, Singapore, Brunei, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Mexico, Chile and Peru.

For and against
Former President Barack Obama treated trade deals as a priority during his tenure, and this particular deal would have bolstered America’s position in the Asia-Pacific region, where China is growing in influence. 

TPP and its implications for India
Stepping up, therefore, are the mega Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) that have begun to negotiate and set rules towards creating a 21st-century template for global trade. One such recently
concluded mega FTA is the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), which is set to re-write the principles of global trade and investment. India, an emerging country with high aspirations, anticipates significant ripples from the agreement. For an emerging country like India, its decision to stay out of the TPP, regardless of its fairness and manner of implementation, is a geoeconomic goal it has set for itself. India must now steel itself to tackle the various tariff, non-tariff and market access issues that are likely to arise out of TPP and protect the country’s trade ambitions, particularly its exports which have been consistently contracting in the last many years.
Once implemented in full force, the TPP is projected to change the global trade architecture and result in such high standards in markets covering one-third of world trade and two-fifths of world GDP. India, being a non-TPP trading partner, will find it dificult to access these markets unless its domestic capacity and standards improve. Thus the implications of the TPP for India, and other emerging economies which are not part of this mega FTA, would be the imperative to develop a strategy to deal with the expected adverse impacts while preparing it to join the TPP in the long term.
To begin with, the TPP varies from existing multilateral trade agreements as it covers areas such as competition policy, regulatory symmetry, and standards for labour and employment. It also tackles other major features such as trade in services, technical barriers to trade, and intellectual property rights. As TPP includes other developing countries, it is expected that the trade disciplines and standards will be implemented in these countries other than non-TPP members, affecting India’s trade once TPP gets implemented. The potential impact of TPP on India will be on three fronts, namely: (a) trade diversion; (b) drop in FDI; and (c) geopolitical exclusion.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *